The True and the Plain: A Collection of Personal Essays

The True and the Plain: A Collection of Personal Essays

by Kerima Polotan

These vintage essays, never before compiled in book form, complete the UP Press' series of Kerima Polotan's works.

Ranging from the very personal recollection, "Many Things in a Life," to the astute commentary of "The Happy Hoi Polloi," they live up to the promise of the book's title.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Autobiography
  • Rating: 4.05
  • Pages: 97
  • Publish Date: 2005 by The University of the Philippines Press
  • Isbn10: 9715424732
  • Isbn13: 9789715424738

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I still have 6 books in my currently-reading folder and I thought I would not want to add another one. However, after reading the first essay, I think my brother is right. As usual, I type my thoughts right after reading an essay or a chunk of them: 1) Estrella. Similar to Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (4 stars) but what makes this better is that her prose is simply... Check this one out: "She rushed at life full tilt, embracing it and all its burdens unreservedly, balancing its terrors and its joys so finely one often could not tell if Ester wept when she was laughing, that singular laugh she had, that chuckle which began in the back of her throat and, if one listened closely enough, sounded half waterfall, and half despairing sigh." Convinced that my brother is not pulling my leg in saying that this would satisfy me, I immediately went to the 2nd essay. 5 STARS This essay reminded me of the days when I used to play with my pre-school daughter. Polotan's incisive prose has the ability to leave marks in your mind even after many days have passed since you finally closed the book or read the story. 4 STARS What I think I am really liking about this book is that when Poloton experienced the stories included herein, she could have been as old or a bit older than I am now. This particular story is about a classmate of hers who visits her office and after quite a long introduction says that he wants to write for Polotan and talks about God. 5) Early Encounter. I liked the innocence of the children captured by the witty and playful prose of Polotan. Like Polotan, I love seeing pretty things in the house. This essay is painful to read if you know you will struggle financially after backbreakingly working for so many years. Kerima Polotan's childhood friend comes back to her life when she is already old and gray. 4 STARS My brother was saying over lunch today that this #12 is the best essay for him in this book. I was able to relate to Kerima Polotan's experiences told in this essay but unfortunately, those did not make me laugh. 3 STARS One afternoon while Kerima Polotan is waiting for the doctor to call her inside. I still like this essay though because Polotan's prose can make almost all topics interesting even those that are as mundane as this. This question is answered by Polotan in this essay. What I particularly enjoyed in this essay was Polotan's references to James Joyce and his character Molly. 5 STARS Polotan made quite a revelation here. 5 STARS My home province is Quezon and you have to pass by that road to Quezon if you go to Bicol, the home province of Polotan. What I found amazing while reading was the friendship between Polotan and her friend and their travel back to Bicol brought back memories of the past. 3 STARS From memories in her home province, the milieu jumped to a posh hotel in America where Polotan and friends saw a stage performance starring Jean Simmons. Here, Polotan seems to give a final last look at her life. After telling each other our favorite parts, he said: "Next time, instead of giving your foreigner friends Rizal's Noli Me Tangere, give them this Polotan's book.

I have read many short stories before, both local and foreign, and I say without any reservation that this Filipino author's short stories are comparable with the world's best and it is no bullshit what its blurb says that it (together with her other works) can stand "as proof of one of the highest points of Philippine literature in English." My personal favorite is the one entitled "Child on a Seesaw" where she wrote about her mother and the search for her grave. "Many times, I had wanted to find my mother's grave, or the child on that seesaw in the park, the word orphan brushing past her like bat's wings--she will never find her way home." Prolific in every way, she wrote a lot of short stories and essays and had TEN children for whom she did all the housework.

Nakaka-antig ng damdamin, emosyon, at may katatawanan ang ilang bahagi ng mga sinulat niya.

********* I like the shape of those words. I spread them on my tongue, like butter, and turn and taste them. I should teach that blasted bird the words, to widen its repertoire, but there are my night clothes on the floor waiting to be put in the hamper, and the damp towels I must shake and then send out to hang in the sun. I have also a lifelong fetish about bathrooms: I like their floors dry, the washbowls, clean. --The mid-morning sounds of life in my house are a commingling of whispers and purrs and silences. The water hose is pulled across the gardenI see a pair of legsand slithers wetly, like a snake. No encounter for her, and she will turn to the small cabinet to grope among her tea cups and for her knife, and spread her tatami on the floor, plunge the blade in her belly. The sun is higher now and floods my dark room, heading inexorably for the door where even now a knock impends because the sounds of living have become shrill and imperative.

It showed me with such tenderness and incite about life in the Philippines.